“What are you struggling with most during this time?”
The COVID-19 outbreak has fundamentally shifted daily life for billions worldwide, contracting the office, school, and care facilities into one space: the home. From the disruption in schedules to feelings of isolation, all are taking their toll. Stress, fear, worry and anxiety are being exacerbated by the struggle of balancing care for family members, including the elderly, remote working or loss of jobs, and supporting the learning and development of children at home. For some, this also includes illness or death of family members.
The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) has worked in some of the most difficult, hard-to-reach parts of Africa and Asia for over 50 years. Prioritising the well-being and psychosocial support was crucial to our COVID-19 response framework for these fragile contexts. We needed to listen and understand the needs of our staff and communities worldwide. We conducted a survey prior and heard a variety of comments:
“Some mothers and fathers are realising it is impossible to do two things at once.”
“There are a lot of tensions between being a caregiver and doing self-care.”
“How to focus on school work and learning when children are scared and depressed.”
To meet these needs, psychosocial support is a key element in the AKDN COVID-19 response. AKF and other AKDN agencies have developed psychosocial support platforms and resources to support families, frontline health workers, educators, civil society actors and their own staff. These methods share psychosocial well-being tips, easy-to-follow stress relieving exercises and one-to-one counselling support to staff and communities.
The “Guidance on Psychosocial Wellbeing and Support during COVID-19” document was developed for individuals, families, and practitioners. It offers offline and online resources, exercises and activities as well as recommendations for programming in developing countries. Thus far, the guidance with easy-to-follow tips, recommendations and exercises has been translated and used in countries through webinars and various social platforms. We are exploring the use of TV spots, radio and call-in hotlines to reach the most vulnerable communities. By utilising multiple delivery methods, AKF is aiming to reach not only its staff but also some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.
This series of short videos is based on the guidance document and provides tips to support adults’ and children’s psychosocial well-being during the pandemic. The videos were created with the support of the Aga Khan Foundation’s Blended Learning Initiative. The initiative provides blended and video-based learning resources available for free — to anyone in the world.
In addition to English, the videos are also offered in a number of languages and local dialects spoken in Central Asia, where the Aga Khan Foundation works extensively. To support communities and staff in this region, including in the most remote mountain areas, the videos are also offered in Russian, Tajik, Shughni, Wakhoni and Rushani. This emphasis on localisation is a hallmark of the Blended Learning Initiative, which develops learning content that is designed to be accessible, conversational, and highly adapted to the needs of its target audiences. We are thankful to the volunteers who generously ensured we were able to full localise to the requests of our Tajikistan and Russia teams.